Don’t know what I’m doing,
Don’t know what I’m saying,
Don’t know how to jump,
In this game I am playing,
So many pits to leap over,
Instead I just fall in,
Descend into darkness:
The darkness within,
No Game Over screen,
No limited lives,
Just a life I keep living,
While something inside of me dies,
And somewhere: a memory inside of me cries,
The tears that won’t fall from my actual eyes.
Sand in the sky,
reflecting the light
so it looks like gold.
Sand in the sky,
grains like worlds,
Sand in the sky,
grains like worlds,
reflecting the light,
appearing as gold.
Early attempt to provide a transcription of Meandering Wastes Artefact One, using an experimental orientation and non-electronic (mammalian; optical) surveying techniques.
Two girls stand at the top of a tower:
One has blood in her eyes. The other has hope.
The night of the murder had a strange drawn-out quality, but the days that followed were worse: a subdued numbness set upon the Faculty that none of us could shake.
None had known the woman particularly well–although she had indeed brought us tea every mid-morning and fruit cakes in the evening. And now, of course, she was dead.
Was one of my fellows the murderer? Most of us had been present on the night that the murder occurred. And so we each played the night over and over in our minds: to whom we had spoken and at what times and we recounted these astonishingly dull details with astounding accuracy to the local constabulary.
As it went, none of us were arrested for the crime. And little by little the lounge once more began to fill up in the afternoons. Drinks and conversations were had (though we never spoke about the murder) and one afternoon the big oak door opened to reveal the arrival of a new tea lady to replace the one we had… lost.
Tabitha was both a little too young and a little too pretty to be competent at serving tea. But of course some of the men enjoyed trying to dazzle the young miss with the details of their latest experiments in which Tabitha, strangely enough, did not seem particularly interested.
Some of us felt sorry for her, but more than anything we were intimidated by her. Each of us scientists–men of books and learning–were frightfully inept (or so it seemed) at being in the company of a beautiful young woman.
We joked with the girl, but only a little. And we had all been shaken up by the police interviews such that we were, all of us, extremely eager to be seen “doing right” by the girl at every possible opportunity.
We fell over ourselves in our eagerness to pour our own cups of tea and we rushed to hold open the door any time Tabitha needed to pass through it. Most of all we tried to make certain that all of our interactions with her took place within view of our colleagues, such that none of us was ever alone with the girl for an extended period in case any unfortunate event (such as, for example, a murder) were to occur.
As such, to find oneself accidentally alone in the corridors with Tabitha gave rise to a peculiar sensation not unlike someone running their fingers gently across your scalp whilst simultaneously squeezing your stomach like an inexperienced bagpiper.
I remember the first time that it happened to me.
“Professor Fitzgerald,” Tabitha said , looking up with wide brown eyes.
I fumbled with my papers. “Yes m’girl?”
“Professor Fitzgerald,” she repeated. “You seem to be a very important man. May I ask what it is to which your studies pertain?”
I blinked, not once: but twice, because that was not what I had been expecting her to ask. Nor would I have been willing to hazard a guess.
“I, uh…” fumbled with my words. Perhaps if she looked away from me for a second I would be able to collect my thoughts and form a coherent sentence, but she just kept staring.
We laughed about it later, of course; my colleagues and I.
Alexander-in-Tweed slapped me on the back and he said:
“At least she’s served us biscuits since, so none can claim you murdered her!”
“Can you believe that she actually asked about your research, as though she could possibly hope to understand such a thing?” chortled Old Nelson Red Nose.
“Now, now,” said Alexander. “Just because she is beautiful doesn’t mean she is stupid,” and then he added: “She was sent to us by the nearby Finishing School as some sort of… punishment, was she not? Perhaps we could offer to put on classes for the other girls. Offer to broaden their understanding of the sciences, if you catch my drift.”
“Foolishness,” said Old Nelson. “That school teaches nothing but comportment and tea-pouring, and the girl has already proven to be inept at the latter. She would never understand the sort of work we do here–no woman would.”
Science is the domain of great and powerful men such as me, I thought in Old Nelson’s voice. That was, after all, what he was really saying.
“You’d have as much luck teaching a mouse to do mathematics,” said Mortimer Longface.
“Or a tortoise to sing,” said Old Nelson.
“A butterfly to swim,” said Mortimer.
Doubtless they would have continued on with such stupidity for some time longer had I not interjected. I glanced across at Alexander and he looked back at me. He might have nodded, or I may have imagined it, but in any case I said:
“The boy is right.”
Nelson and Mortimer both sat with their mouths open and their eyes twitching, as though daring me to continue speaking.
“Women have just as much right to an education as men. Perhaps they will even be able to bring some new thinking to the table. I propose we each draw up a selection of lectures on the fundamentals of our respective fields and invite the young ladies of the finishing school–and perhaps even their old schoolmarm–to attend.”
Nelson and Mortimer looked flabbergasted; suddenly neither man could find the ability to speak. I would hear it from them later, no doubt. Across from me Alexander smiled and took a sip from his teacup.
I’ll shake everything down to the ground,
With a whisper so loud it makes no sound,
As dust arises, fate transpires:
My thoughts ignite a thousand fires.
Talahar was the Bird God. Wearing his plumed headdress, he stood a full two heads taller than even the tallest member of the tribe. He carried with him a crooked axe in the shape of a bird’s beak–this he used to crack the skulls of his offerings.
In that, Talahar was unique amongst the gods of Racmar, for his appetite singularly demanded the blood of children.
As such, Talahar amongst the most feared of the jungle spirits, as well as the most respected. Villagers spoke of the times Talahar had approached the doors to their huts, poised on the threshold, axe-beak in hand. There, Talahar would stand in the darkness and listen for the child within drawing breath.
In that moment–his decision would be made. If confident that the child within was brave and strong, he would move to another hut, and then another, until he found a child whose breathing did not satisfy him.
The children that Talahar took were deemed to be cursed. Should the feather-headed god not take them, crack their skulls and sip the brain-blood from a cup fashioned from the egg of an ancient bird, then the child would surely bring famine, death and destruction to the remaining villagers.
Or so it was told.
But on this night, when the bell tolled and then the drums began; on this night when Talahar gave his awful bird-call from atop the ritual platform…
One mother did swaddle her child in cloth and hug him to her breast.
“No, no, no, no, no, no,” she whispered to her little one, cradling him against her.
And the god stole through the city streets, breathing heavily inside the headdress that was filled with the stench of a dozen bird-gods before him.
Talahar’s actions were for the good of the village. He did what he did to protect every villager.
And now, the Bird God paused at a door and listened to the sounds within. With the beak of his axe he struck the wood, a single resounding knock that echoed through the village, for all were hushed and waiting and praying that it was not their door that Talahar struck this night.
But the door did not open and so Talahar struck it again, this time shedding splinters from the wood. The Bird God was shaking, the feathers atop the headdress fluttering as he rattled up and down. Anger overtook him. Rage.
He fell on the door in an assault of mad avian screams, battering it to pieces so that he could step over the threshold and into the darkness beyond. He could sense them there in the corner, little more than shadows: mother and child, merging together as one. If Talahar had to take them both, he would.
The only thing more important than the Masked Gods were the Bestial Princes they served: those malformed shadows that lingered in the pits and furrows of the mountain caves, speaking in riddles of wisdom and threat.
He stepped forward. Then again. Still screaming that horrendous scream, he raised the beak-axe high above the plumed feathers of the mask. There was a movement to the side of him and someone gripped the axe and twisted it away.
Who would dare?
Talahar was outraged. The beak of the axe buried itself into his back. Over and over again the mother struck, screaming loudly enough to rival the Bird God himself. Blood scattered in fine threads across the interior of the frugal jungle hut.
And then, the Bird God was dead.